How to Make 3-Ingredient Flower Food (Plus, Our Best Tips for Keeping Bouquets Fresh)

updated Feb 1, 2024
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Credit: Joe Lingeman

Very rarely will we ever tell you to skip the flowers. Not only do they look beautiful and help to perk up a space, they’ve also been scientifically proven to help alleviate daily stress. Yes, really! The key is just making them last as long as possible. We have a few tips for that — and the first (and most important!) one involves making homemade flower food. But first…

What Is Flower Food?

Flower food typically comes in a small packet, which you can stir into your bouquet’s water to help the flowers stay fresh, last longer, and keep the water cleaner (and less muddy). Believe it or not, it typically only consists of three common ingredients: sugar, citric acid, and bleach. The combination keeps the flowers fed, decreases the risk of bacteria growing in the water, and makes plain tap water more habitable for the plants.

Credit: Lauren Volo

1. Make homemade flower food.

Flowers need food, water, and a clean environment. Food? Yes! Sometimes you’ll get a little packet inside your bouquet, or if you’ve ordered your flowers to be delivered, but did you know you can easily make your own? Here’s a basic home recipe:

  • 1 quart water
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon bleach

The sugar is the food for the flowers, while the bleach helps to slow fungi and bacteria growth. Note: If you want to take it up a notch, you can adjust the sugar based on the flowers in your vase. Here’s a chart with recommended sugar percentages for different varieties of cut flowers. If you want to keep things simple, go with the formula above.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

2. Trim those stems.

You want to open the stems up to the water, so cut off the dried bottoms at an angle to let them soak up as much water as possible. You probably already know to do this when you bring new flowers home, but they can also get gummy as they close up while they sit in a vase — so trim the ends every three or four days. Just an inch or so is good!

Credit: Joe Lingeman

3. Remove the lower leaves.

Leaves on the stems and below the water level will quickly deteriorate and promote mold. Remove all leaves from the stems below the waterline. Keep this up as you add water and trim the stems.

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